COVID-19’s impact on network and working culture has created what our CEO Jeppe calls ‘The Lost Generation’ of “people who are disoriented, disillusioned, and to some extent also alienated from the rest of their organization.”
The shift to hybrid and remote settings has impacted how we interact with weak ties, seeing the emergence of what some call ‘ghost colleagues’- those who have disappeared from networks. The prevalence of virtual working channels removes the ease of chatting with a distant colleague at the water cooler or while grabbing coffee in the office canteen. Despite the plethora of benefits that remote and hybrid work has brought, there are also an array of new challenges- after all, reaching out to a distance connection via Zoom, Slack, or Teams for something not work-related can feel awkward!
Loneliness is prevailing…since the pandemic, upwards of 30% of employees are left out of informal networks (source: Innovisor). Additionally, the reduction of in-person contact means people are more likely to only have contact with their closest connections. The strong ties may be getting stronger, yet those weak ties have been neglected. Loneliness in the workplace is a big risk for employees’ well-being and health (including the risk of burnout).
One life sciences company worked with Innovisor in early 2020 to establish a new way to check in with their people, through Organizational Network Analysis, and to establish a baseline of their connectivity.
The diagnostic revealed LifeScieneCo’s field and office workers were not connecting. While there was strong connectivity within the office-based teams and regionally for field workers, they lacked the cross-organization relationships that they desired. To combat that, Innovisor found the 3% of people in the company to be engaged to build organizational connections.
This organization laid the groundwork thanks to the results of their 2020 diagnostic. They focused on relationships, especially between field and office workers as the 2020 diagnostic revealed the gap between the two. Prior to 2020, the field and office workers would have maybe one or two in-person get-togethers a year.
The results of the first diagnostic, coupled with the pandemic, gave the organization an opportunity to check in more frequently and establish digital interventions that improved communication, specifically across the field and office-based workers. These digital check-ins provided a platform not only for increased collaboration but a chance for the people to connect socially and get to know each other better.
Engagements with the 3% also helped establish small, targeted working groups. To alleviate the barrier of not knowing what to connect over, working groups were formed to facilitate employee connections. These groups provided structure and a common goal, necessary to build strong working relationships.
The re-run diagnostic discovered that those serving on one of the working groups were 65% more likely to be nominated as a collaboration partner and were more central in collaboration networks. In the network visualization, those who participated in working groups are represented as blue squares. This finding proved that intentional collaboration and working toward a clearly defined, common goal were instrumental to creating new working relationships! The proven success of the working groups emphasized the need for meaningful connectivity.
The re-run also revealed only 6% were not included as an energizing connection; LifeScienceCo was on par with pre-covid numbers, versus the post-covid benchmark of 22%. Unbelievable good! This is attributed to a strong focus on a culture of happiness (as emphasized by the creation of the Chief Happiness Officer role) and prioritization of connectivity: both socially & collaboratively.
The transparency of Innovisor’s diagnostic results was central to building upon the trust this organization was cultivating. Ongoing interventions were set up for success and prepared for a curveball no one could have expected!